After a week reviewing town park and recreation needs, planners are culling data to figure out where they’ll go with the information.
“Right now it is just a draft with no formal recommendations,” said Brown Simpson, town park and recreation director.
Last week, consultant Bob Brookover from Clemson University led a community presentation asking residents what they most want in town, and how satisfied they are with what’s available.
“If it shows a gap there between how important it is and how satisfied you are with it, that’s an issue,” he said.
Brookover and Glenn Parker led focus groups with recreation stakeholders such as coaches and parents in recreation leagues, and residents without close ties to the department.
“We wanted a little bit of a mix of those two groups,” Brookover said.
One constant in focus groups and the community presentation was the transition of the Leroy Springs & Co.-owned recreation complex on Tom Hall Street once the town’s lease expires in five years. The complex has pools, basketball and racquetball courts, fitness facilities and tennis courts and fields for baseball, softball and soccer. Leroy Springs applied several years ago for a rezoning to convert the complex property into a mixed-use residential and retail development and the town tabled the request.
“Understand that that aquatic facility is going away in five years,” Brookover said. “Every single focus group has discussed the pool.”
Cindy Van Buskirk, swim coach at Fort Mill High School, said the loss of the complex is a major concern. Both Fort Mill and Nation Ford High have competitive swim teams, but neither school has a pool.
“It’s very important to me to get a pool,” she said.
Other interests ranged from youth sports to senior activities, from league play to passive recreation. They considered what percentage the town recreation department should fund activities compared to how much participants should pay in user fees.
Sharon MacKenzie, part of a Sun City pickleball contingent, came out to support a game they’ve tried to introduce in local schools and recreation facilities for several years. A group of four voted for more pickleball courts, or at least lines on existing tennis courts.
Pickleball, similar to tennis or badminton with a lower net, can fit four courts on one tennis court.
“You have tennis courts,” MacKenzie said. “It’s pretty cost-effective just to paint lines.”
The next step is for the recreation department to review results and make a presentation to Fort Mill Town Council early next year.